10 Common Causes of Weight Regain1/ Very low calorie diet (VLCD). People who choose very low calorie diets are more likely to regain weight than those who choose a moderate weight loss program. What's the fix? Choose a better diet the second time around. Most fad diets don't allow you to learn the lifestyle skills that keep the weight off for the long-term.
- Relaxed eating habits. Are you starting to make portion size mistakes? Do you still monitor the right serving size of each food you eat? After you've been diligent for a long time during the dieting phase, it's easy to let your eating habits relax a bit.
- Negative emotions. A research report in Obesity Reviews found that people who eat in response to negative emotions are more likely to regain weight. Have you encountered any stressful situations that are causing you to eat more than usual? If so, you may want to face emotional issues that cause overeating to prevent more weight regain in the future.
- Decreased self-efficacy. A report in the journal Clinical Diabetes on weight gain prevention suggests that people who have low self-efficacy at the beginning of their weight loss program are more likely to regain their weight. But here's the good news: you can build self-efficacy by learning just a few simple habits. And even better, it helps you to be successful in other areas of your life.
- Hunger hormones. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that hunger hormones may be related to increased appetite in people after they have lost weight. Researchers studied the levels of leptin, a hormone that helps you feel satiated, and ghrelin, a hormone that increases hunger, in 50 people who had lost weight. They found that hormone levels stay in "diet- mode" even after the diet is over. The research was limited in scope, but it suggests a possible reason that dieters often regain weight.
- Less physical activity. The American College of Sports Medicine
released a position stand about the about the amount of exercise needed
to lose weight and to maintain the loss. They recommend that people
participate in at least 250 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise to maintain their weight after losing.
- Perceived barriers. Diabetes researchers have found that people who perceive barriers to weight loss are more likely to regain weight after it has been lost. The barriers often include the perception that food is too expensive or that you can’t eat healthy meals away from home. Overcoming perceived barriers is a sound strategy for people who believe that physical, emotional or environmental obstacles stand in the way of maintaining their weight.
- Decrease in support. Your friends and family may have rallied around you while you were dieting, but now that the weight loss phase is over they may say and do things that hurt your weight maintenance efforts. Learn to ask for continued support to keep them on your side over the long haul.
- Weight cycling habit . According to data from the Diabetes Institute, you are more likely to regain weight if you’ve regained weight before. It becomes a weight cycling habit. There is conflicting research about the long-term effects of this habit, but in some studies, yo-yo dieting has been linked to an increased risk of certain diseases including hypertension.
- All or nothing thinking. What happens in your head may play a big role in what happens when you step on the scale. Experts believe that a pattern of “all or nothing thinking” can lead to binge eating after a diet is over. The fix? Learn effective short and long-term goal setting strategies so that you learn to recognize the small accomplishments and set-backs as stepping stones to a larger goal.
If you’ve regained weight after a period of successful dieting, try to keep the set-back in perspective. Remind yourself of the strategies that made your diet and exercise program work in the first place and try to revisit them to keep the weight off for good.
Christina Garcia Ulen, Mary Margaret Huizinga, MD, MPH, Bettina, Beech, DrPH and Tom A. Elasy, MD, MP. "Weight Regain Prevention." Clinical Diabetes July 2008.